We are instructed to give thanks in all things. To many of us, maybe it seems like there is not a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving compared to past years. Personal trials seem to go on forever, the economic and moral decline of a once great nation, the disasters that are hitting this planet without letup. Every night on the news you hear of murders like it was nothing anymore. What has happened to law and order in our society? Everything is breaking down.
But wait! God has not forsaken us has He? (Hebrews 13:5) No, I still have so much to be thankful for. For in these things, it forces me to run for Him like never before. To take refuge before the coming storm. (And there is one coming.)
Thank you God, I have food for tomorrow's feast.
Now, I am not going overboard with dinner. I have reached a point where that's all just too much now. Turkey and a couple side-dishes, and a wheat free pumpkin pie. Surely that is an overwhelming gift that millions of poor people on this planet would be thrilled to receive.
The rest of the holidays? I can't get into Black Friday shopping. To tell you the truth, I love celebrating the Incarnation, but the mass hysteria of gift-giving gets less and less appealing each year. It reminds me of desperation.
People desperately trying to find happiness in the way of buying presents for each other. That's not what its all about. There's got to be a simpler way...
I'll give a few small gifts, to be sure. But I just can't go into a shopping frenzy, not with what is happening all over the planet. Wars, starvation, homelessness...but most of all- people dying and going into an eternity without Christ. That is the biggest tragedy of all.
Still, in the midst of sorrow and pain in the world, I know God's love manages to conquer in unexpected ways. I was privileged to share a couple of shoeboxes with Operation Christmas Child. Children that have nothing learn about Jesus through this shoebox ministry. My friends Jane and John lay down their lives at a Methodist church nearby to do their part to make this a reality for many children. They receive an awesome blessing in return. They give thanks they can participate in this! It is a blessing to give to others. Together, with many others, thousands upon thousands of children will receive gifts, but more importantly, hear about Jesus.
Whenever I am overcome by sorrow, when I lift my voice to praise my God it always lifts my spirit. Praising Him is for God's benefit but it benefits us too. It takes our eyes off ourselves and our problems, and raises them to God and His infinite abilites, His "dunamis" power, that can solve any "little" problem I may have. My afflictions suddenly don't seem so big anymore...
"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy...
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry with goodness."
Psalm 107: 1,2,9